Legislation Sets New Rules as to What Defines a Swiss-Made Watch

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After many long, arduous sessions and discussions over the course of more than three years, new legislation finally defines the term "Swiss Made." The new rules go into effect in one year, beginning January 1, 2017. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), the bill that has been signed and sealed is a victory for the watch industry. It includes provisions governing Swiss Made accreditation.

The new legislation is based on a 2013 “Swissness” amendment of the federal law on trademarks and indications of origin. That amendment, to be adopted as of next year, stipulates that at least 60% of the value of industrial products must originate in Switzerland, and the product must be given its essential characteristics in Switzerland. Originally, the FH was fighting for that percentage to be 80 instead of 60, but they are pleased with this outcome.

The current ordinance regulating the use of the name "Swiss" on watches dates back to 1971 and sets the criteria by which a watch can qualify as "Swiss Made."

Currently, a watch is considered Swiss if the movement is Swiss, i.e.:

  • the movement is assembled in Switzerland,
  • the movement has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland, and
  • the components of Swiss Manufacture account for at least 50% of the total value, without taking into account the cost of assembly;
  • its movement is cased up in Switzerland, and
  • the manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland.

In order to merit the Swiss Made label, the Swissness amendment requires that for industrial production (e.g. watches), at least 60% of the production costs are attributable to operations carried out in Switzerland; this may include the costs for assembly, research and development, and legally or industrially regulated quality assurance and certification. Moreover, at least one essential manufacturing process must take place in Switzerland.

Unlike the existing ordinance, the Swissness amendment applies not only to the movement and final inspection, but to every component of the watch (including wristlets and cases).

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